Arlington, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Sonny Gray dominated the Texas Rangers' lineup in his first career shutout, a three-hit masterpiece that propelled the Oakland Athletics to a 4-0 victory in the opener of a three-game series between the American League West foes.
Gray (4-1) added six strikeouts and walked just one in a dominant 108-pitch performance that halted a string of five losses in seven games for the A's, which included a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rangers in Oakland last week. The young right-hander didn't allow a runner past second and let few balls out of the infield, with 15 of his 27 outs coming on the ground.
Texas didn't get the same efficiency out of its starter, as Yu Darvish (1-1) was tagged for four runs on six hits while walking two over 3 1/3 shaky innings in by far his shortest and most ineffective outing of the young season.
"We tried to make him work early on," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of the game-plan against Darvish. "You know you're usually not going to knock him out of the game. Hopefully you get his pitch count up, score a few runs off him and hopefully you get him out of the game sooner than later."
Josh Donaldson aided Gray's cause with a two-run single and Josh Reddick finished 3-for-4 with an RBI triple in the win.
The anticipated duel between two of the AL's most impressive hurlers during the early part of the season never materialized, as Darvish continually struggled with his command during a laborious 83-pitch effort.
He got through the first two innings without any major trouble, but walked Eric Sogard and hit Jed Lowrie with a pitch around a Coco Crisp single in the third as the A's loaded the bases with one out. Donaldson then sent a first- pitch slider through the left side of the infield to bring in two runs and give Gray all the support he would need.
A successful challenge by Rangers manager Ron Washington, who had a safe call on Brandon Moss during a pickoff play overturned, prevented Oakland from doing more damage in the inning. However, a Jaso single to open the fourth was followed by Reddick's triple down the right-field line, and a sac fly off the bat of Daric Barton had the Athletics up 4-0 before the Texas bullpen took over.
While Darvish was off his game, Gray was in top form. After inducing a pair of double-play grounders that ended two of the first three frames, he permitted just two more singles the rest of the way and got stronger as the game went along, registering five of his six punchouts after the fourth inning.
"Gray was in a groove," said Rangers designated hitter Mitch Moreland. "He had his stuff, he was moving the ball around and was controlling his breaking ball in there. He made it tough. We couldn't get anything going."